LEADERS of the tripartite opposition bloc have condemned the arrest of Basotho National Party (BNP) spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe on Friday, saying it was tantamount to harassment and intimidation.
Mr Mofomobe handed himself in at the Mabote Police Station after learning that the Lesotho Mounted Police, Lesotho Defence Force, National Security Service and the Lesotho Correctional Service had launched a joint operation to search for him. Following his arrest, Mr Mofomobe was transferred to Police Headquarters.
The BNP spokesperson was wanted in connection with the possession and dissemination of confidential government information. This was after he allegedly took and published pictures at Police Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Qoatsaneng Hill home after the latter’s arrival from a working visit to Russia and Iran last month.
In a statement issued by the BNP, All Basotho Convention, and Reformed Congress of Lesotho the opposition parties condemned the arrest, describing it as an “intimidation” tactic.
“This (arrest) is only meant to spite and intimidate the opposition, and we have to find a way to deal with it,” read part of the statement.
The opposition also took issue with the composition of the joint task force that sought to arrest him.
“It is alarming that the government has combined soldiers, rehabilitation officers, police and security services officers to do the job of the police. It is indicative of the ongoing militarisation of our state apparatus.”
The bloc also accused the government of selective application of the law, saying other alleged offenders had not been prosecuted.
“A number of prominent members of government face criminal prosecution for a range of very serious crimes that include fraud, corruption, murder and treason as set out in the (Justice Mpaphi) Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry.
“These alleged crimes have been fully investigated yet no action has been taken to present the perpetrators before the courts of law. Instead innocent citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse are subjected to harassment by the security apparatus.”
On Friday evening, roads leading to the Police Headquarters were barricaded by angry opposition supporters who burned tyres until the early hours of Saturday demanding Mr Mofomobe’s release.
The BNP spokesperson’s lawyers secured a court order for his release shortly after midnight on Saturday morning.
In his address to the gathered well-wishers following his release, Mr Mofomobe said his arrest as “politically-motivated”.
“My arrest was politically-motivated and this is not at all surprising especially when our police have clearly joined politics,” Mr Mofomobe said.
Contacted for comment, police spokesperson Superintendent Clifford Molefe said the charges against Mr Mofomobe would be revealed on Monday when he would appear in court.
“He was not called in for questioning but was indeed arrested and that is all I can say for now. The charge will be known when it is read out to him in court on Monday,” Supt Molefe curtly said.